Ex-Florida Professor Claims She Was Fired for Complaining About Offensive Textbook

A former professor has filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Central Florida claiming that she was fired after refusing to use a textbook containing offensive stereotypes.

The book, "Guide to Culturally Competent Health Care," aims to help students deal with people from cultural backgrounds different from their own.

But Nancy Rudner Lugo, who is of Hispanic descent, alleges in a lawsuit that the book contains "serious and offensive racial, ethnic and other stereotypes about selected cultures of people" and that she was wrongfully terminated after she complained about it.

Some of the excerpts mentioned in the lawsuit include:

- "Many [African Americans] tend to be high-keyed, animated, confrontational and interpersonal, expressing their feelings openly to trusted friends and family. (page 21)."

- "As a way to cope and a way to communicate with others, Jews frequently use humor. However, jokes are considered to be insensitive when they reinforce mainstream stereotypes about Jews…"

- "Many [Puerto Rican] families socialize male children to be powerful and strong. This macho behavior encourages dominance over women. (page 374)."

Lugo alleges in the suit that, based on her own assessment and student complaints, she suggested in fall 2007 the university's College of Nursing replace the book, and in 2008 said she would no longer use it in her class.

In the subsequent months, the suit alleges, she received three different letters of non-reappointment, one citing a poor evaluation, another citing her unwillingness to accept an assignment and a third saying her "approach was not consistent with the direction of the college."

"Not withstanding UCF's alleged reason for Dr. Rudner Lugo's nonreappointment and her termination from UCF that resulted therefrom, Dr. Rudner Lugo opposed the faculty and the administration of UCF on the use and continued use of the book and that is in fact what resulted in her retaliatory termination from UCF," the lawsuit states.

The assistant president of UCF told MyFoxOrlando.com that Lugo's lawsuit is without merit and the school stands by the book.

University spokesman Grant Heston said he couldn't comment on the specifics of the case, but said, "The UCF College of Nursing's curriculum aims to provide students with the best resources and guidance available so they are well prepared to care for patients of all ages, cultures and backgrounds."

The Guide to Culturally Competent Health Care is considered one of the best-selling publications about nursing cultural trends in the country. It won the American Journal of Nursing book award in 2005.